Clovis boasts two of the smallest-but-mightiest branches of the Fresno County Public Library, and one of them just turned two years old.
Sierra Vista Library, which is really just a self-serve vending unit that stands in the west end of the Sierra Vista Mall, was installed in March 2014 and opened the following month.
The machine circulates about 1,200 books, CDs and DVDs each month, making it just as busy as some of the county’s smallest branches.
The Clovis Library, which has been housed in the Civic Center complex at 1155 5th Street for 40 years, is the second busiest branch in the county — despite its tiny 8,600 square feet.
“We put in the kiosk to help with that,” said county librarian Laurel Prysiazny. “The kiosk is the equivalent of a branch, it just doesn’t have reference service -- people service.”
For some, it is more convenient to pick up and return books at the mall instead of the city’s main library, Prysiazny said.
“The whole beauty of it is that you don’t have to go to the library,” she said. “If you want a book, you can pick it up there. You can also return books to it. It’s a pretty neat service station.”
Much like a jukebox, a library patron can browse through available titles with the push of a button. The machine also has an attached computer where anyone can browse for any title in the Fresno County Public Library’s collection and have it delivered to the kiosk for pickup at a future date.
“There’s a lot of demand for children’s books there,” Prysiazny noted. “Clovis has a fairly young community.”
The kiosk is the first of its kind to be installed in a shopping mall in the United States, the librarian said.
“I think that there’s another one or two now, but ours was the first,” she said. “It was built in China and shipped here.”
The installation was no small feat.
“That puppy is 7,000 pounds,” Prysiazny said. “They had to remove the entire entrance to the mall to get it in there.”
At the branch’s grand opening ceremony two years ago, Prysiazny was surprised to watch a family use the machine while she was speaking to a crowd about the county library’s latest innovation.
“The family was oblivious to everything going on and I turned to the crowd and said, ‘there is no better demonstration than that.’ It’s a really neat machine,” she said.
The kiosk recently went through a renovation.
“The company just recently came over and redid the interior from metal to a high polymer plastic to increase the speed of the machine,” Prysiazny said. “Rather than having metal move, plastic moves faster.”
The library is looking at similar, smaller models to install in locations across the county that are not as well served, Prysiazny said.
“That one I call the monster. It’s the biggest of all of the book kiosks built right now,” she said. “The rest will be much smaller.”